IMEX Frankfurt 2020 cancelled over coronavirus concerns

Major industry trade show is the latest event to succumb after Germany's health minister calls for a ban on large events.

IMEX Frankfurt, due to be held at Messe Frankfurt, has been cancelled after concerns were raised when Germany's Health Minister called for a blanket ban on events where more than 1,000 people are gathered.

A joint statement from Ray Bloom and Carina Bauer said: 

"It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we announce the cancellation of this year’s IMEX in Frankfurt (due to take place 12-14 May).

"We know that this will come as an enormous disappointment, not only to the exhibitors, buyers and industry professionals who were due to attend the show, but also to the global business events community.

"This is not a decision we have taken lightly and there are two overriding concerns that have caused us to make this decision at this time. 

"First is the uncertainty caused by the fact that the German health minister has recently called for the ban on events with over 1,000 people, which some German states have already endorsed, including the state of Hesse where Frankfurt is located. This announcement makes the probability of factors outside our control forcing us to cancel the show at the last minute much higher. 

"Second, our primary concern is always the responsibility we feel towards our exhibitors and partners, who fund the show – not only by purchasing stand space but also in the considerable additional investment they make in everything from the build of stunning stands to the hosting of buyer events.

"While only a short time ago we felt optimistic that May was far enough away to confidently proceed with our plans, as it stands today [11 March] we cannot guarantee the one thing that our exhibitors trust us above all else to deliver – namely a large-scale, high quality hosted buyer programme.

"In an ideal world we would wait and see. But we are in the real world and we cannot, in all good conscience, ask our exhibitors to continue to invest money against which they may not get a return. 

"Both of these factors – uncertainty around whether IMEX will be allowed to proceed, as well as doubts as to the number of buyers who will be able to attend - have led us to the conclusion that we now have no option but to cancel IMEX in Frankfurt."

Leaders from across the industry have offered their support:

"We very much regret the cancellation of IMEX in Frankfurt - the leading trade fair for the business event world - but we can understand the decision in view of the current situation. We appreciate that Ray Bloom and Carina Bauer made this decision together with and for the exhibitors, their partners and participants.

"The GCB German Convention Bureau has been a strategic partner and host at IMEX for many years, since the very beginning, and we are looking forward to continuing our trusting cooperation next year with proven partners and new ideas."

Matthias Schultze, GCB German Convention Bureau

"While it’s very unfortunate that IMEX in Frankfurt has been cancelled, we recognize that this was a tough decision, which was made in order to reflect the top priority for our industry: ensuring the safety and security of our community. We are fully supportive of their decision and are confident that it was not taken lightly.

"The value that the IMEX Group provides to the meetings and events industry is immeasurable; and the benefit our worldwide community gains from the collaborations facilitated by IMEX is paramount to its advancement.

"Meeting Professionals International (MPI) will continue to provide the highest level of support possible to IMEX – our strategic partners for nearly 20 years – as well as to our partners and members and around the world."

Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO, MPI

"While we at ICCA share the disappointment of this decision, we support Ray, Carina and the IMEX team in their leadership to take this bold and decisive action to minimise the impact to the event’s stakeholders, large and small.

"Together, we have a duty to collaborate at this time, acting reasonably and rescheduling events where possible, using our industry’s renowned creativity to seek alternative solutions or formats to our events where necessary. Our industry will recover and emerge from this in due course and continue to deliver great outcomes to event audiences worldwide."

James Rees, president, ICCA and Senthil Gopinath, CEO, ICCA

"It is, of course, deeply regrettable that the IMEX team has to cancel their flagship trade show in Frankfurt this May. However, I want everyone in the business events and exhibition industry to know on behalf of JMIC that we fully understand and support the difficult decision that Carina and Ray have had to make. 

"Market places and meeting places are the core driver of business. For our industry to bounce back from the corona slump, our own market places and meeting places will as well be our fastest fast track to recovery.

"We are a resilient industry. We have shown that in the past, we will show that again. We are all in this together."

Kai Hattendorf, CEO, UFI - president, JMIC

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